Nov. 7, 2011 Nov. 21, 2011 Nov. 28, 2011

Vol. 9, No. 27
Nov. 7, 2011

Young adults – the Millennials, as they are called – born between 1980 and 1993 preoccupy us in the Church.

Will they be committed Catholics involved in the Church? Do they believe what the Church teaches? Can we count on their leadership in the Church for the future?

Last evening at St. Thomas More Newman Center Parish at the University of Arizona, I confirmed 12 young adults, most who are completing work on their degrees. Some were born in Tucson, but most grew up elsewhere. They are diverse in their academic interests and career directions, including a Navy Reserve Officer trainee, a communications major, an architecture student, an art historian and dentistry. In common, they have the experience of finding Christ.

In the letters they wrote me about why they wanted to be confirmed, one of them shared, “Seeking Confirmation is the very best thing I did.” They were confident in their letters that they were ready to receive the sacrament. They had learned a lot about the faith and have grown in their relationship with Jesus Christ and in their love for Him. 

Clearly, faith matters for these young adults. They are proud to be Catholic and desirous to live their faith.

Throughout our Diocese, we need to continue to invite our young adults to meet Jesus. Young adults are searching, and we believe our faith has much to offer them.

In “Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults,” Kenda Creasy Dean describes this generation of young adults as having a hard time making commitments, figuring things out. They never have enough money. They reject an objective reliable morality and depend on subjective intuition. If something harms someone, it is wrong; if not, it is okay. They realize everyone is different and are tolerant of those differences. One’s own subjective self determines what is to be done. “Hooking up” is common. 

Yes, young adults can present many challenges to our Church and to our society, yet I see great potential in the gifts they bring to us. I witnessed that last evening at St. Thomas Moore Newman Center Parish.

A successful campus ministry depends on dedicated staff who love to engage and relate to young adults. We have been blessed by such dedication in the ministry of the Dominicans at St. Thomas More for many years.

Father Robert Burns, O.P., has taught generations of these young adults in his 40 years at the UA. He founded the Religious Studies Program and served for many years as its chair. We have been blessed to have his ministry. Congratulations to Father Bob on his 40th anniversary at the UA. While he is “sort of retiring” this year, he will continue to help young adults at the Newman Center realize the importance of faith in their lives. (There’s a profile of Father Bob in this month’s issue of The New Vision.)

Father Bart Hutcherson, O.P., pastor of St. Thomas More, and his co-workers Father Don Bramble, O.P., Father Jacek Buda, O.P., Sister Elizabeth O’Donnell, O.P., and Sister Angelita Velez, O.P., do a marvelous job in their campus ministry. I am delighted that Father Ricky Ordonez, our diocesan director of Vocations, has an office on campus and is assisting Father Bart in bringing the faith to life on campus. I am convinced that there are many vocations to the priesthood and religious life among the young adults at the UA. We just need to invite and encourage them!  

1. Pastor Installation – Witnessing a parish community’s standing ovation for its new pastor is a joy for me, and I had that joy Saturday evening after I installed Father Viliulfo Valderrama as the third pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Tucson. 

Father Vili spoke of a new chapter in the life of the parish and his hopes that they will work together to ignite a flame of faith to create a community that believes wholeheartedly in Jesus Christ.

People were so forthcoming in saying how pleased they are to have Father Vili as their new pastor, citing his warmth, his concern for them, his desire to be a loving father, a gentle shepherd and a wise teacher.

This celebration of entrustment, when the community welcomes its new pastor, is always moving.

2. Diocesan Pastoral Council – The Diocesan Pastoral Council had a full agenda for our Saturday meeting.

As we do at every meeting, we began with a faith sharing by one of the members. This is a moving and powerful way to begin any gathering, as it enhances our faith to hear others share their faith journey and the joys and struggles they experience.

We discussed the Co-Workers in the Vineyard Ministry Conference that will be held at the Tucson Convention Center and Hotel Arizona next March 15-17. Council members want to be actively involved in the Conference, and Sister Lois Paha, O.P., director of our diocesan Office of Pastoral Services, and Joe Perdreauville, associate director, discussed with them how they might participate. We spent a lot of time discussing how the Conference can be affordable, especially for people who live far from Tucson. While the registration fee is very reasonable, there is concern about the cost of lodging and transportation for those coming from far away. We shared ideas about how to keep the cost low, including seeking grants from exhibitors, asking for hotel discounts, seeking host families and setting up hostels in parish halls (in the example of the Cursillo).

We also discussed how we might encourage participation of young adults. Sister Lois will be contacting Father Bart at St. Thomas More Newman Center to explore ways to do that. We encouraged Sister Lois and Joe to consider ways to reach out to spiritual and fraternal movements (Charismatic and Cursillo groups, Movimiento Familiar Cristiano and others) to participate. A suggestion was made that perhaps there might be a time during the Conference for the members of these groups to gather.

I discussed with the Council members about our preparation for our diocesan summits on school financing and marketing and ministry in small community parishes. Their comments were helpful.

I shared my recent experiences in Baghdad and Port au Prince, Haiti, with the group.

3. Pizza with Poster Contest Winners – On Saturday at Most Holy Trinity Parish, I enjoyed meeting the grade school students from our Catholic Schools who were winners in the poster contest sponsored by the Knights of Columbus for the Arizona Rosary Celebration held in Tucson and Phoenix last month. We enjoyed our lunch of pizza and ice cream!

These budding young artists did a great job, and it was obvious that their parents were very proud. Karen and Bill McEwen from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton served as hosts.

The winners: Olivia Clay, All Saints Catholic School, Sierra Vista; Annette Herrera, Our Lady of the Mountains Parish, Sierra Vista; Alexandra Chao and Hailey Chrysler, Immaculate Heart Academy, Tucson; Maddy Multhup, Delaney Wilson, Catherine Kilbury, Joanna Mona, Armando Vasquez, Joy Mona, Hailey Gonzales, Kariela Galaz, Mary Schreiber and Ellie Semon, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School, Tucson; Vivian Current, Benjamin Staiger, Riannon Hubbard and Sienna Yarab, St. Joseph School, Tucson.

The contest was open to all students in our Catholic Schools and parishes in grades two through eight.

Next year’s Arizona Rosary Celebration in Tucson is scheduled for Oct. 20.

5. Fiesta – I enjoyed dropping by the fiesta of Holy Family Parish and St. Gianna Oratory in Tucson on Saturday. Canon Richard Von Menshengen showed me around the various booths as the mariachi group was playing. There was a feast of homemade food, games and a flea market with tons of donated items. I wish I had brought my camera to capture Canon Richard driving the kiddy train around the grounds. I was too late to see the procession of children dressed as saints.

I could sense the pride the people felt about the hard work and planning that went into the event. Canon Richard was delighted that both communities worked together to make the fiesta happen.

Parish fiestas, while a lot of work, are great fun and a chance to build community.

6. Ongoing Formation Day for Priests – I will be joining the priests in our Diocese today at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks for the first of two Ongoing Formation Days for Priests in this program year. (The second Ongoing Formation Day will be part of the Co-Workers in the Vineyard Conference in March.)

Our guest presenter is Father David Garcia, senior advisor for clergy outreach for Catholic Relief Services. His reflections on “Priestly Ministry in a Global Church” will focus on “The Eucharist and the Global Priesthood” and “Prayer for a Global Priesthood.”

Based in San Antonio, Father David develops and strengthens relationships between CRS and clergy in our country.

7. National Assembly of Roman Catholic Filipino Priests – I am very honored to have been invited to give a workshop presentation at the first National Assembly of Roman Catholic Filipino Priests that is convening this week in Los Angeles.

The Assembly will gather hundreds of Filipino priests who minister throughout our country and its territories.

At the Assembly’s morning Mass on Wednesday, I will reflect on “The Priesthood as Gift and Mystery.”

“Priestly Fraternity and Ministry” is the topic of my Wednesday workshop. I look forward to sharing the historical connection of our Diocese to the Philippines. Bishop Daniel J. Gercke, the third Bishop of Tucson, served as a missionary in the Philippines for 10 years in the early 1900s.

We are very blessed in our Diocese by the ministry of priests who have come to us as missionaries from Philippines. Father Miguel Mariano, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Tucson, was our first Filipino seminarian. He was ordained by Bishop Manuel Moreno. Father Miguel was followed as a seminarian by Father JoJo Tabo, pastor of St. James Parish in Coolidge, and Father Ricky Ordonez, our diocesan Vocations Director, both of whom it was my joy to ordain.

Coming to us from the Philippines as priests have been Father Ariel Lustan, pastor of Our Lady of the Mountains Parish in Sierra Vista, Father Jose Maria Corvera, pastor of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Florence, Father Victor Lugo, A.M., and, just last month, Father Arnold Aurillo, parochial vicar at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Parish in Miami.

Presently at Mundelein Seminary in formation for our Diocese are Ramonito Celestial, Wilbert Celestino and Albert Miranda. It will be my joy to ordain Ramonito to the priesthood next June.

8. Meeting of Arizona Catholic Conference – The five bishops of the Arizona Catholic Conference (Bishop Thomas Olmsted and Bishop Eduardo Nevares of the Diocese of Phoenix, Bishop James Wall of the Diocese of Gallup, Bishop Gerald Dino of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Phoenix and I) will meet this Thursday in Phoenix.

Our agenda includes presentations and discussions about the Catholic Schools in our dioceses and tuition scholarship organizations the Diocesan Catholic schools and the tuition support organizations that provide essential resources for their ministry. We also will receive a preview of the upcoming legislative session and the issues likely to impact the mission of our Church in Arizona.

9. U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Fall General Assembly – I will be leaving this Saturday for Baltimore to attend meetings in advance of this year’s Fall General Assembly that begins a week from today.

The agenda for the Assembly includes:

• Elections of USCCB secretary-elect, chairmen-elect of five committees, the chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace and board members of Catholic Relief Services
• Discussion and approval of the “Resolution on Diocesan Financial Reporting”
• Discussion on religious liberty
• A report by the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth and the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage
• A report by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo on the work of Project Rachel, the post-abortion healing ministry
• A report by Cardinal Donald Wuerl on Anglicanorum coetibus, the Vatican’s response to groups of Anglicans seeking full communion with the Catholic Church
• A report by Bishop Kevin Farrell on the proposed publication of “One Church, One Mission – Guidelines for Administering USCCB National Collections in Dioceses”
• Discussion and approval of the 2012 Conference Budget
• Status of “Deepen Faith, Nurture Hope, Celebrate Life,” the USCCB’s Priority Plan
• Evaluation of the Reorganization and the Process to Create a Priority Plan, 2008-2011
• Discussion and consensus from the body of bishops on three priority initiatives for 2013-2015

10. Looking Ahead – Because I will be attending the Assembly, there won’t be a memo next Monday.

So, looking to next week after the Assembly:

I am honored to have been invited to give a keynote presentation on Thursday, Nov. 17, at this year’s Huether Lasallian Conference in Washington. The Conference is the annual gathering of Lasallian educators in the USA-Toronto Region that explores emerging educational issues and themes. The theme for this year’s conference is “Faith in Action: Civic Engagement through Lasallian Education.” San Miguel High School in Tucson, a member of the Cristo Rey Network, is the only Lasallian school in Arizona.

I will join the members of our Diocese’ Cursillo Secretariat for their meeting at the Pastoral Center on the morning of Saturday, Nov. 19.

On Saturday evening and Sunday morning, Nov. 19 and 20, it will be my joy to celebrate Mass with the Catholic Community in the San Tan Valley of north Pinal County. I will share with the community our joy at their becoming St. Michael the Archangel Parish, our diocese’s 77th parish!

11. Safe Environment Program – I am very pleased to share with you the notice I recently received from StoneBridge Business Partners, the national auditors for diocesan compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

StoneBridge informed me that our Diocese remains in compliance with the data collection requirements of the Charter based on the data submitted for the 2010-11 audit year. The data included what was accomplished in our diocesan Safe Environment Program with regard to screening, education (minors as well as adults) and response to allegations.

The Charter, adopted by the Catholic bishops of our country in 2002, is the foundation for the Safe Environment Program in our Diocese.

I am grateful for the dedication of our priests, deacons, religious, lay employees and volunteers to our common commitment to protect children and all those we serve.

I thank especially our pastors and principals and their compliance representatives who do so much to bring the Safe Environment Program to life in our parishes and schools. I encourage you to give them your thanks for their tireless and sometimes unrecognized efforts in this most important work.

12. St. Augustine Cathedral’s New Crosses – From the Rite of the Dedication of a Church:
“The anointing of the church signifies that it is given over entirely and perpetually to Christian worship.  In keeping with the liturgical tradition, there are twelve anointing places…as a symbol that the church is an image of the holy city, Jerusalem.”

For the re-dedication of St. Augustine Cathedral last February, we selected 12 locations for the anointing and had our eleven Vicars Forane and our Vicars General stand at the places of anointing as I and Father Gonzalo Villegas, Cathedral rector, anointed each location.  

Now, those places of anointing are marked by bronze crosses, installed last week.  A holder for a candle is attached to the base of each cross. The candles will be lighted on special occasions. There are two crosses in the front at the entrance of the sanctuary, two at the apse near the choir and the baptistery, two in the rear beside the main door and three on each wall near the Old Testament images. making the total of 12 locations and crosses.  

The crosses were beautifully crafted by Rory McCarthy Design Studio of Tucson. I am grateful to Father John Lyons, pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish, and to the people of St. Thomas for the gift of the crosses, which they gave as a tribute to their beloved pastor emeritus, Msgr. Todd O’Leary.

Vol. 9, No. 28
Nov. 21, 2011

This weekend, on the first Sunday of Advent, you will be saying and hearing different words at Mass as the new translation of the Roman Missal begins to be used throughout our Diocese and the English-speaking world.

The introduction means that both the priest and the people initially will have to read some of the prayers of the Mass rather than reciting them from heart. While this may be awkward at first, gradually we will become more familiar with the new words.

I pray that the new translation will be an occasion for us to focus again on the Liturgy as the source and summit of our lives in Christ. Sometimes, we can grow accustomed to our prayer. It can become routine and unreflective. The new translation will help us to focus again on the words of our prayer, allowing us to come to a new awareness of their meaning.

Advent is a time of waiting, longing and hoping. We are preparing for the Lord’s return in glory. In the meantime, we encounter Him in the celebration of the Eucharist, in His Word and in the assembly of the people at prayer. Advent is a fitting time for the introduction of the new translation.

During Advent, we will light a candle each week to symbolize our longing for Christ that grows stronger and stronger as Christmas approaches. As we light the first of the Advent candles this Sunday, we will also receive the new Roman Missal and offer a prayer of blessing as our community of faith receives this new text.

The Roman Missal dates back to the year 1570. Many of the prayers contained in the Missal have been used since at least the fourth century. We are a Church of tradition, but the Lord brings out the old and the new. This new translation represents years of work by many people to bring our texts into greater conformity with the original Latin text of the Third Roman Missal.

Father Miguel Mariano, director of our diocesan Office of Worship, has recommended resources for the blessing of the Advent Wreath and the new Roman Missal, including this blessing that I will use at Mass this weekend (Saturday at 5:30 p.m. and Sunday at 10 a.m.) at St. Augustine Cathedral:

God of wisdom and light, we praise you for sending your Son to save us from our sins and to be light in our darkness. Bless us as we gather in His name, bless this wreath as a sign of His light among us, and bless this Roman Missal; grant that all who use it or hear its words may grow in wisdom and grace before you and all your people, through Christ Your Son in the love of the Holy Spirit, now and for ever.            

You can download the resources from Father Miguel here.

1. Visit to the Community of St. Michael the Archangel I was very pleased this past weekend to visit our newest parish, St. Michael the Archangel, in San Tan Valley in the Pinal West Vicariate.

It was my joy at the Saturday evening and Sunday morning Masses to introduce Father Dale Branson, who has served 10 years as pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Hayden, as the temporary administrator of this fledgling parish community. Father Domenico Pinti, pastor of St. George Parish in Apache Junction and vicar forane for the Pinal West Vicariate joined me at one Mass on Sunday to express his congratulations to the community.

The people welcomed their new temporary administrator with enthusiastic applause. He shared some of his background of having grown up in a family of boys and that some of his brothers live in the area and that his parents live in Washington State. He made us laugh when he said that when his mother heard of his appointment she said, “Now you will lose all your hair!” Indeed, starting a parish is a daunting task, but it is obvious that the people of St. Michael’s are excited about working with him.
  
I enjoyed celebrating the three liturgies, one Saturday evening and two yesterday morning. People were so gracious in welcoming me. They expressed their delight that they now have a name and that the name St. Michael was their choice. They are excited about moving as soon as they can to the 19-acre site that has been purchased for their new parish. Father Branson told the people that he plans to set aside 10 per cent of the Sunday collection to the building fund.

(The purchase of the land and that in Maricopa for Our Lady of Grace Parish came from the generosity of our people throughout the Diocese who gave to our diocesan renewal, Our Faith, Our Hope, Our Future. Two years remain in the pledge fulfillment period, and I hope all who pledged to support the campaign will know of all the good that is happening in our Diocese because of their generosity.)

The new St. Michael the Archangel choir, with adults and children, sang at the 10:30 a.m. Mass yesterday.

I visited the religious education classes that are held between the 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Masses. Parishioners serve as catechists, and I could see their dedication and determination to hand on the faith to the young people.

I was honored to bless the Rosaries of two of the catechists who give so generously of their time to serve the Church.

I enjoyed speaking with our newest parishioners and hearing their enthusiasm and willingness to give of their time, talent and resources to build up their new community. Everyone pitches in at St. Michael and on one Saturday a month they host a pot luck supper after the Saturday evening Mass. 

I was amazed to see all the growth that has taken place in the area that is variously called San Tan Valley or Copper Basin. While the economic downturn has slowed the growth, it was obvious to me that it was time to start this new parish to provide for the Catholics in the area who had to make long drives either to Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Florence or Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Queen Creek, which is in the Diocese of Phoenix.

2. Presbyteral Council Meeting – The Presbyteral Council meets this morning at the Pastoral Center.

Our agenda includes a report by Margie Puerta Edson, executive director of the Catholic Foundation for Stewardship and Charitable Giving, on preparations for the 2012 Annual Catholic Appeal Campaign. We will hear a report from Tom Smith, a member of the Board of Directors of the Diocese of Tucson Catholic Cemeteries, on the ministry of our cemeteries. And we will continue our exploration of how we can improve the process for priest parish appointments and pastor transitions.

At noon at St. Augustine Cathedral, the members of the Council and I will concelebrate a Memorial Mass for Bishop Manuel Moreno, whose fifth anniversary of death was last Thursday.

3. Adult Confirmation – It will be my joy this evening at St. Augustine Cathedral to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation to adult members of the parish communities of Most Holy Trinity, Sacred Heart, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. Augustine and St. Monica Parishes in Tucson. Mass with conferral of the Sacrament begins at 7 p.m.

I am delighted that our parishes are working with adults who were not confirmed when they were young. The reasons that these adults postponed or deferred reception of the sacrament vary, as do the reasons they now want to be confirmed. Whatever brought them to their preparation classes, they now will receive all the gifts of the Spirit.

Tonight’s celebration will be bilingual, a reminder of the rich diversity that makes up our Diocese. I am grateful to the pastors and staffs of the five parishes for what they are doing to invite others into a deeper relationship with their faith through the sacraments.

4. Padre Kino Exhibit Closing – All are welcomed this evening from 5 to 7 p.m. to a reception marking the closing of the Padre Kino Exhibit at our diocesan Archives. There will be a half-hour program at 5:30 p.m. commemorating Kino scholar Father Charles W. Polzer, S.J., who died in 2003. Father John Arnold, pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Casa Grande, generously has offered to give the exhibit a new home at the parish. Our Archives is on the south side of the campus of St. Ambrose Parish, 300 S. Tucson Blvd., in Tucson.

I am grateful to all who were involved in creating the Padre Kino Exhibit, which was part of the commemoration of the 300th anniversary of the death of the legendary missionary and explorer.

5. Thanksgiving – I love the celebration of Thanksgiving.

While not a religious feast, what Thanksgiving is all about is at the heart of our faith – an attitude of gratitude. We express our thanks to God, realizing that all we are and all we have is a gift from Him.

I am especially grateful this Thanksgiving for the hard work and generosity of our priests who serve tirelessly to respond to the spiritual needs of our people. I am grateful to our deacons whose service extends the compassion of Jesus. I am grateful our women and men religious who serve in so many ministries. And I am grateful our lay women and lay men who have been entrusted as co-workers in the work of our Church. We are so blessed in our Diocese to be co-workers with one another in realizing Christ’s mission. I am so excited about celebrating our shared ministry at our Co-workers in the Vineyard Ministry Conference this coming March. Seeing us gathered to celebrate who we are as a local Church will be a great joy!

Thanksgiving is about family. Many of you have met my mom, who lives at St. Joseph’s Home, a ministry of the Little Sisters of the Poor, in Palatine, Illinois. She is 99-years-old! I am thankful for how good God has been to her and my family. I will be joining my mom at St. Joseph’s for lunch on Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving evening I will be with the rest of my family for dinner that will be hosted by my niece Amy and her husband Christian and their three children, Zoe, Quinn, and Felix. I pray your family gatherings will be blessed.

Vol. 9, No. 29

Nov. 28, 2011

Well, we got through the first Sunday of the new English translation of the Roman Missal.

We prepared well. We were ready. Great job!

With a few fits and starts, the people used the prayer cards for the new responses and the celebrant read the new texts carefully from the Roman Missal, and the new music settings got sung quite well. We processed the new Missal into the church, incensed it and blessed it. The altar servers were astonished that the new missal weighed so much. But we survived.

Even after 45 years as a priest, I was a little nervous at the two Masses I celebrated over the weekend at St. Augustine Cathedral having to read the new texts from the book – different words than the words I knew by heart.

Some of the scriptural images in the new translation are striking, and phrases like “from the rising of the sun to its setting” and “resolve to run forth to meet your Christ” are very powerful.

Let me know (bishop@diocesetucson.org) of your experiences with the introduction of the new translation. I welcome your reflections.

I signed a message in the new Roman Missals being used at St. Augustine Cathedral for posterity’s sake. I wrote: “May the prayers of this new Roman Missal help to sanctify our people in the Diocese of Tucson.” That is my prayer, that the new texts will help us to focus on our prayer as we celebrate the Divine and Holy Liturgy and that our prayer will connect us to the God we worship, who in the fullness of time came to live among us.

While we in the English speaking world were becoming acquainted with the new translation, the first candle in the Advent Wreath was lit in all the Catholic Churches throughout the world, reminding us that we belong to a Universal Church that together awaits with great expectation the coming of the Lord.

This Advent, we strive to open our hearts to the Lord, to make the Lord more central in our lives. While the world is focused on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we attend to the fact that we are awaiting the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We strive to change the world as it is to become the world God intends it to be. This means striving to protect the dignity of all human life from conception to natural death. This means working for justice and peace. This means being present to the sick, the dying, those struggling economically, the depressed, the alienated – all those in need.

With great longing, we await the coming of the Lord.

1. Diocesan Finance Council – Our Diocesan Finance Council meets tomorrow morning. I will seek the advice of the members on how we might respond to the economic struggles that so many people are experiencing. Despite the economic downturn, our people continue to show great generosity in helping our Diocese to continue its mission.

2. School Visits and Masses – I will visit St. Augustine Catholic High in Tucson tomorrow and celebrate Mass with the students, faculty and staff. This Thursday, I will visit All Saints Catholic School in Sierra Vista and celebrate Mass with the students, faculty and staff.

I am so proud of our Catholic Schools and all that they do to form young people in the faith. When I visit our schools, I am always impressed by the quality of our teachers and principals, by the enthusiasm of our students and by the friendly and hospitable environment.

It is a great sacrifice for parents to send their children to a Catholic School, especially in these troubled economic times, but their sacrifice means that these parents know the importance of good preparation for college and for heaven.

3. Breakfast with the Bishop – I have been meeting informally from time to time with parishioners from throughout our Diocese at the Bishop’s Residence for Mass and breakfast. These small gatherings allow me to hear from parishioners about their parishes and their communities. I reflect with them about the important ministries that are supported by their generosity of time, talent and resources. Our next Breakfast with the Bishop gathering is this Wednesday.

There are so many people in our Diocese who are so supportive of the mission of our Church who I have not had the chance to meet. These breakfasts are an opportunity for me to meet more of our parishioners and to thank them for all they do. I learn so much from them about what we might do to better serve our communities of faith.

4. Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem – I will join the members of the Equestrian Order of Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem in our Diocese for lunch this Wednesday. I will share with the Knights and Ladies my experiences visiting Baghdad last month and reflect on the plight of Christians in the Middle East.

5. In the Spirit of the Season – I will welcome the lay and priest volunteers who serve so generously in our diocesan Tribunal to the Bishop’s Residence this Thursday evening for our annual Advent dinner.


I am very grateful to Father John Lyons, our Judicial Vicar, to Helen Evans and Martha Jordan of the Tribunal, and to our volunteer Defenders of the Bond and Auditors for their ministry that helps so many in our Diocese to resolve their marriage situations. Our volunteer Defenders of the Bond and Auditors work with couples to prepare their cases for presentation to the Tribunal. Their service, often unseen, brings so much healing.

6. Luncheon for Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup – Mayor Bob Walkup and his wife Beth have served the Tucson community since 1999. As Mayor Walkup prepares to leave office after serving three terms, some of his fellow citizens are having a lunch this Friday to express the thanks of the Tucson community for all they have done.

Mayor Walkup loves Tucson and worked hard to make our community a better place to live and to raise children. I had the joy of working with him on a number of important initiatives, including the Meth Free Alliance that seeks to rid our community of the menace of meth abuse, efforts to find work for refugees in our community who have been displaced from their home and now reside in Tucson, efforts to build a society in which civility is prized and respected and in which people treat one another with dignity and the efforts to heal our community after the tragic shootings of last Jan. 8. Especially in the aftermath of that tragedy, I witnessed the Mayor’s feelings for people and for their struggles.

Working in the public arena is challenging today. One has to be ready for criticism. I think we need to express gratitude to our public officials who try hard to enhance our communities.

We pray for all our public officials that they may serve with integrity, always putting the needs of the people first.

7. Gathering of Yuma - La Paz Vicariate Parish Pastoral Council Members – Last April, we had a gathering at the Pastoral Center of the members of our Diocesan Pastoral Council and members of parish pastoral councils that had the goal of making the members more effective in their ministry for their parishes and for our Diocese. Sister Lois Paha, O.P., director of our diocesan Department of Pastoral Services, and Joe Perdreauville, associate director, led us in exploring the value of the parish pastoral council to the pastor and for the life of the parish. We also reviewed our diocesan Parish Pastoral Council Guidelines.

At the request of Yuma – La Paz Vicariate, we will have a follow-up gathering this Friday in Yuma. Sister Lois and Jeannette Apaez, a former chair of the Diocesan Pastoral Council, will lead a review of the ministry of parish pastoral councils. Jeannette, who will lead the Spanish sessions of the meeting, is well versed in the efforts of our Diocesan Pastoral Council and parish pastoral councils to collaborate for the good of parishes and our Diocese.

I will reflect on the importance of parish councils and the mandate that each of our parishes have a parish pastoral council and a finance council (which is also mandated by Canon Law.)

8. “Sharing the Harvest with Faith through God’s Word” – The annual Dia del Campesino celebration is this Saturday in San Luis.

The celebration takes place at Friendship Park near the San Luis U.S. port of entry. Thousands of farmworkers from Mexico pass through this entry each morning during the winter vegetable harvest to work in the fields in Yuma County. The “Day of the Farmworker” celebration includes health screenings, flu shots and other services offered by community agencies for farmworkers.

Manos Unidos, Hands Together, our bi-national project with farmworkers in Ambos San Luis and Yuma, will host our annual Mass Saturday morning at Friendship Park. The theme of the Mass this year is, “Sharing the Harvest with Faith through God’s Word.” I will concelebrate the Mass with priests of our parishes in the Yuma - La Paz Vicariate.

9. Conferral of the Ministry of Acolyte – I will confer the Ministry of Acolyte on the candidates for the permanent diaconate this Sunday during the 10 a.m. Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral.

Deacons are ordained to serve. Acolytes serve at the altar presenting the gifts of bread and wine that will become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Acolytes assist at the Mass helping to make the celebration reverential and fitting worship of God.

I congratulate all our candidates on this next moment in their preparation to serve. It will be a time of joy for Sister Lois Paha, O.P., and all who have been working with these candidates for nearly four years. They marvel at how these men have grown in their understanding of the faith, in their relationship with the Lord and in their desire to serve. We all can give thanks for the willingness of these candidates to serve our Church.

10. Community Remembrance of Loss – Leaders of Tucson faith communities will gather this Wednesday at our Pastoral Center to begin planning for an Interfaith Service to mark the first anniversary of the tragic Jan. 8 shootings in Tucson.

It is important that we remember those who died and were wounded in that tragic event. The service will take place at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012 at St. Augustine Cathedral.

I regret that I will not be able to participate in the service since I will be in Egypt and the Holy Land representing the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in the annual Coordination of Episcopal Conferences for the Church in the Holy Land. I am so pleased that the event will be held at our Cathedral. Two additional community events of remembrance are being planned for later in the day.

11. Don’t Forget to Qualify for Your Tax Credits! – This is my annual encouragement for you to support our Catholic Schools and the mission of Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona (CCS) through two special tax credits for Arizona taxpayers.







By contributing to the Catholic Tuition Support Organization (CTSO), you can qualify for the Private School Tuition Tax Credit. Information on this tax credit is available at www.ctso-tucson.org, through each of our Catholic Schools and from the CTSO Office at 520-838-2571.







By contributing to CCS, you can qualify for the “Arizona Charitable Tax Credit.” For more information about this tax credit opportunity, visit www.ccs-soaz.org (click on Support & Volunteer with CCS).







These tax credits are effective ways to either reduce the amount of state income taxes you need to pay or to increase the amount of the refund you receive.



The deadline for making contributions to CTSO and to CCS that can qualify you for the tax credits is Saturday, Dec. 31.



Gracie Quiroz, executive director of CTSO, Ernie Nedder, chairman of the CTSO Board of Directors, and I will be meeting with potential corporate donors to CTSO tomorrow for lunch at the Pastoral Center. Directing corporate tax dollars to CTSO has brought many benefits to families who would not be able to afford a Catholic School education.

Please spread the word about all the good that the tax credit donations to CTSO and CCS help to make possible.

12. Shamrocks Are Champions! – Congratulations to the Yuma Catholic High School Shamrocks on their victory over Northwest Christian for the Arizona Division V State Title.

We can all be proud of Coach Rhett Stallworth and the team for this victory that ranks them 1,107th in the country, 19th in the Arizona State Rankings and Number 1 in the Arizona Divison V Rankings. Great job!

I am sure that Judeth Badgley, principal, Msgr. Richard O'Keeffe, and Father Chris Orndorff, Father John Friel and Father Xavier Perez, pastors of our Yuma parishes, and all the Yuma community are proud of their Shamrocks.

13. December Issue of The New Vision – The December issue of The New Vision, our diocesan newspaper, will be distributed at our parishes this weekend.

In this issue, you will read about the restoration of Our Lady of the Sierras Shrine in Hereford. The shrine was destroyed by last summer’s devastating wildfire. The story is accompanied by some powerful photos. In my column, I reflect on how there are some disconnects in the efforts of the U.S. Catholic bishops to communicate about important issues and about Church teaching. I challenge us all to use this Advent as a time to lay a prayerful foundation for our preparations for the Year of Faith that Pope Benedict XVI has called for beginning in October of next year.

14. Remember in Your Prayers – Please pray for the repose of the soul of Father Bede Wilk, O.P., who died Friday in Tucson at age 82. Visitation will be tomorrow at 5 p.m. at St. Thomas More Newman Center Parish in Tucson, with the Rosary at 6:30 p.m. The Funeral Mass will be at 7 p.m.

Father Bart Hutcherson, O.P., pastor of St. Thomas More Newman Center Parish, wrote this about Father Bede:

2011 is the 50th Anniversary of Father Bede Wilk’s ordination to the priesthood. He has touched many lives ministering throughout the Western United States in those 50 years. Born in Cheyenne, Wyoming, young Frank spent his adolescence working for the Union Pacific Railroad in his native state. After serving in the United States Navy during the Korean Conflict, Frank was able to use the GI Bill to begin his college studies. Baptized a Catholic aboard a Navy vessel, Frank continued practicing his new-found faith at the Newman Center at the University of Washington. It was there that he met the Dominican Friars. He entered the Order in 1955, taking the religious name “Bede.” He spent his formation years at Saint Albert’s College in Oakland, CA. 

During his years as a priest, he served in many pastoral ministries both in the parochial setting and in university ministry. Notable among his assignments are Anchorage, Eugene, OR, Salt Lake City, and, of course, here in Tucson. 

Known as a man of great humor and a quick and sharp wit, he was a wordsmith of highest order and used all of those gifts in ministry and in preaching. 

When Father Bede retired from active ministry to Tucson in 2004, he was already beginning to show signs of Alzheimer disease. He made his final move to Handmaker Jewish Services for the Aging in 2006, where he spent the last five years of his life. We are so grateful to the wonderful patient care staffs on the Tynan and Golding Units at Handmaker for their extraordinary care for Father Bede in his declining years.

It is hard to see a beloved brother, especially one who trafficked so easily in words all his life, ravaged by the effects of dementia. But even as late as the 6th of this month, when last I was able to speak with Father Bede, his sense of humor and love for words were still present.

Having probably suffered a stroke in the second week of November, Fr. Bede’s final decline came rapidly. Called to his bedside this evening, we were able to offer our brother a final anointing and to sing the Dominican Salve Regina in his room. He died peacefully less than hour later.

Thank you, Bede, for a life of dedicated service. You have guided many to the Lord. May the angels and saints now receive your soul and guide you to the Lord’s side. Rest in Peace, Brother.